Tennessee Joins States Restricting Drone Flights, Citing Fourth Amendment

Search form

Tennessee Joins States Restricting Drone Flights, Citing Fourth Amendment

Tennessee Joins States Restricting Drone Flights, Citing Fourth Amendment
Tue, 5/28/2013 - by Mint Press
This article originally appeared on Mint Press News

Last week, Tennessee became the latest state to pass legislation limiting unmanned aerial drone flights in its territory. Governor Bill Haslam signed the Freedom of Unwarranted Surveillance Act into law making it the fifth state to have passed legislation restricting drone surveillance by police and federal agencies.

Citing a tally published by the American Civil Liberties Union, CBS News reports this month that legislation aimed at limiting drone flights by police departments has been proposed in 41 states and enacted into law in five states.

The legislation bucks previous industry projections claiming multibillion dollar growth in drone manufacturing over the next decade.

Previously, the Federal Aviation Administration projected that there could be as many as 30,000 unmanned drones flying in U.S. airspace by 2020.

The state law comes on the heels of President Obama’s policy speech Thursday, addressing drone use abroad in operations that kill suspected terrorists and militants. The president defended the use of drone strikes, saying, “Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.”

Some were left unsatisfied by his defense, worried that Obama will continue to use his powers broadly, in ways that could violate the constitution. Senator Angus King of Maine called the speech “astoundingly disturbing” and said the Defense Department officials “have essentially rewritten the Constitution.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that since 2002, U.S. drone strikes have killed up to 947 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the main drone lobby organization, promises23,000 new jobs across the U.S. by 2025. Global spending on unmanned aircraft is projected to double over the next decade, from $5.9 billion annually to $11.3 billion. The Teal Group, an aviation and defense consulting firm, predicts that most of this growth will be in the U.S.

Drones have many uses including energy exploration, weather research, traffic control, wildlife tracking and movie production. For legislators in Tennessee, police drone surveillance remains a concern that led to the passage Monday of the bill limiting their use. Earlier industry estimates may have to be reduced after Tennessee and other states curb drone flights.

The Tenth Amendment Center, a group supporting states’ rights and individual liberties, describes the bill introduced by Tennessee Sen. Mae Beavers as having undergone a “roller coaster adventure through the legislative process” before eventually passing 32-0 in the Senate and 91-0 in the House.

“As this number [of drones] increases, it is very important that they are operated responsibly and consistently, as well as in accordance with our Fourth Amendment Rights,” Beavers said in April when the bill passed the state’s Senate.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires warrants be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

Several exceptions are granted in the Tennessee law, allowing the federal government to fly drones in order “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States secretary of homeland security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.”

State and local law enforcement agencies are still allowed to fly drones for surveillance purposes, but must first obtain a search warrant signed by a judge in order to do so. Only in cases “to prevent imminent danger to life” such as a terrorist attack, are police allowed to forgo the warrant approval process.

Tennessee now joins a bevy of other states that have either proposed or enacted legislation limiting the use of unmanned drone aircraft in their airspace.

There is still active legislation currently being debated in 28 states.

 

Article Tabs

A new bill provides two years of tuition at a community college for participating high school grads who might otherwise face a 7.5 percent unemployment rate – and other states are already following suit.

Rent-backed securities are the direct descendants of the mortgage-backed securities that crashed the economy in 2008.

Al Gore, Leo DiCaprio, Sting and hundreds of thousands of others swelled New York City's streets to demand climate justice.

In one of the most controversial “terror” cases in modern U.S. history, supporters rallied on the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban Five to demand the remaining three incarcerated men be released.

Community leaders, activists and residents affected by this summer's water shutoffs in Detroit are rallying at the Federal Bankruptcy Court on Monday to demand an immediate Water Affordability Plan.

If you're planning to take to the streets in New York City or elsewhere this week, know that today's IMSI technology used by police or the FBI could greatly affect the privacy of your cell phone and protest communications.

Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

Shifting toward community-based renewable power is a strong thread running through Scotland's Radical Independence Campaign, and a free Scotland could inspire other countries to relinquish their fossil fuel addiction.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

The history of resistance movements shows that when 3.5% of a population mobilizes on an issue, no government can withstand it – and organizers hope the climate justice movement can reach that level.

Posted 4 days 9 hours ago

Using social media and alternative news networks, activists and citizen journalists have found new ways to tell Americans the real story – it's immediate, it's personal, its electronic and its everywhere.

Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

This weekend I won’t be marching for the climate, but I won’t be sitting around doing nothing either – I’ll be at the sixth annual Australian Climate Action Summit in Queensland delivering some inconvenient truths.

Posted 4 days 9 hours ago

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most anti-democratic international tool of dispossession and exploitation designed in human history, allowing multinational corporations’ rights to supersede the constitutional provisions of all countries and peoples’ rights.

About 75% of all Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. And it gets worse from there.

Farmers in the Indian state of Rajasthan have been protesting since March against a government plan to hand over their ancestral lands to an oil refinery without adequate compensation.

Tom Steyer and NextGen Climate’s anti-Keystone pipeline ad made Americans sit up.

Greetings from Michigan, the Right-to-Rip-Off-Unions State

What should one call these Orwellian “right to work” laws?

Sign Up